To say that the tenure of Jon Embree at Colorado has gotten off to an underwhelming start would be an understatement of epic proportions.
After winning just three games his first season, Embree’s Buffs started 2012 by losing to in-state rival Colorado State — and things have only gone down hill from there. CU followed up that loss with a home defeat at the hands of FCS-level Sacramento State, then followed that up with a 55-point drubbing at the hands of Fresno State that saw the Bulldogs drop 55 points and roll-up over 500 yards of offense in the first half alone.
That sad state of affairs has prompted some, a mere 16 games into head-coaching career of the former CU player and assistant, to call for Embree’s head on a platter, silver or otherwise. At least for now, though, one very prominent CU official is not paying heed to the screams for change.
Reacting to the calls for Embree’s dismissal, CU president Bruce Benson instead called for patience among the fan base and alumni as the football program attempts to rebuild from five straight losing seasons — the first time in the school’s history that had happened — under the previous head coach.
“I think players kind of said it all after the game when they said, ‘This is the best set of coaches we’ve ever had and we’re really behind them and they’re great guys,'” Benson said according to the Denver Post. “Obviously, people are always going to get upset over something. It’s not the first time in my life I’ve seen people upset. All we can say is we have a serious rebuilding. …
“There’s no point that I or anybody else is going to step in that I know about. So we’re going to play it out. We’re going to rebuild and be positive and move forward.”
One former player, however, has come out with verbal guns blazing and aimed squarely at the football program.
In an expansive talk with the Daily Camera, Denver radio personality Matt McChesney, who was a player during Embree’s and offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy‘s stints as Buffs assistants, blasted the state of CU football, labeling it a “disgrace” and “the worst program in the nation.”
While not calling (yet) for the firing of either Embree or Bieniemy, McChesney said “if I was in charge, Greg Brown would be fired today,” referring to CU’s defensive coordinator. On that he might have a valid argument.
Last season, Colorado ranked 109th in scoring defense (36.5 points per game) and 102nd (439.3 yards per game) nationally. This season, the Buffs are 112th (40.3 ppg) and 106th (479.7 ypg) in those categories.
And, even as he has somewhat tepid support for Embree, he’s putting the onus on the state of the football program squarely on his shoulders, and not that of the former head coach who left the program in tatters.
“I’d like to give Embree and E.B., the benefit of the doubt, but it’s really hard for me to do that after 69 points to Fresno and losing to Sac State and losing to CSU, and then having to look at our conference schedule the way we do,” McChesney said. “I mean, I don’t see a team that we can score a touchdown on let alone win. They’re going to all score 60 points on us.
“I’m not going to blame Dan Hawkins. I’ll tell you that. I’m not going to be that guy who just blames the old coach. This is Embree’s watch. It’s his responsibility.”
Unfortunately for Embree’s supporters, and likely to the delight of his detractors, it will get a helluva lot worse before it gets any better.The Buffs this weekend will begin a streak of nine straight Pac-12 games, with five of those coming against conference teams currently ranked inside the Top 25 of the most recent rankings.
Following that daunting gauntlet, we’ll see if the administration, including Benson and athletic director Mike Bohn, remains squarely in Embree’s corner.